DP Jamie Cairney: “ACES, HDR haven’t changed my approach”

Season 1 of Sex Education was shot with the OG Sony Venice and the working color space was S-Log3/S-Gamut3. For season 2, it was decided to use ACES. Moderator Debra Kaufman asks the production and post-production team how working in ACES changed their workflow. Three of the four panelists were new to ACES. Of particular interest to us were DP Jamie Cairney’s responses, since ACES imparts a look that is distinctly different from the camera’s own log color space.

Debra Kaufman: Did this [ACES workflow] impact at all how you… did you have to modify LUTs or any other tools to get a consistent look with season 1?

Jamie Cairney: Not for me at all. The really big point I want to make today is that it doesn’t change anything. For me, it hasn’t changed anything in terms of how I work on set, except that it just makes me feel more confident in terms of what I know I’m capturing. I know that when I get to the grading suite, it’s gonna be there, it won’t have changed. So, it makes me confident. In terms of my approach, it doesn’t change: as with HDR, I haven’t changed my approach. There’s a couple of small, little, niggly things that you have to be careful of with HDR of course, but once you… Don’t be scared of this technology, it’s there to help you, and I haven’t changed anything.

Debra Kaufman: You said that your job really didn’t change, but we did have one question from somebody watching who wanted to know how you managed the correct visualization of ACES on set.

Jamie Cairney: I didn’t change anything in that regard. We were monitoring in Rec.709 on set. In terms of monitoring with ACES on set at that time, we felt that that was a bridge too far, adapting our LUTs. The workflow at the front end is very simple, I monitor in Rec.709 and that’s it. And we’re keeping an eye on the RAW [X-OCN]. And Shibbir [Shibbir Ahmed, DIT] has obviously got my back and making sure I’m not making any stupid decisions. I’m definitely interested in, moving forward, in changing that in the future, but for the time being, Rec.709 seemed to be the simplest thing for me, because ultimately, I still work with digital cameras pretty much as I would do with film and I use a light meter and various other digital exposure tools and using my eyes, so I’m less reliant on monitors. I still don’t trust them, basically.

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